Volume 16, Number 9 | July 29–Aug. 4, 2003

THE PENNY POST



Useless saints

By Andrei Codrescu

A few years ago, the Vatican was “considering naming Saint Isidore of Seville the patron saint of Internet users and computer programmers.” I read about the nomination on the Internet, but I haven’t heard a thing since. Did the Holy See make a final decision? Saint Isidore, who lived in the seventh century, is believed to have written the world’s first encyclopedia, “The Etymologies,” which included entries on medicine, mathematics, history and theology. He sounds Jewish to me, Saint Isidore. But whatever he is, what’s his job supposed to be? Can he protect people from spam or carpal tunnel syndrome? Or bad jokes and misinformation? Are good Catholics supposed to hang an icon over their computer, or kiss a statuette of Saint Isidore every time they log on?

The Vatican first went online in 1996 at www.vatican.va. The site was powered by three host computers named after the archangels Raphael, Michael, and Gabriel. The Pope himself moved into cyberspace in 1998 and the world’s one billion Roman Catholics were able to hear and see him recite the Angelus prayers on Sundays and listen to his weekly audience on Wednesdays. A friend of mine told me that the Pope said one time that, “The Pyramids are ancient abandoned shopping malls,” or at least that’s what he thought he heard him to say, because later my friend wasn’t so sure. Maybe his Saint Isidore wasn’t working.

Saint Cecily, the patron saint of television, hasn’t been doing a very good job, either. TV’s been getting worse since she was put in charge, and I haven’t seen a single icon of her anywhere, not even in Mexican airline offices where they got everybody else.

Are all saints useless or just these two?

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